The secrets of Tantra, the rituals, the powers, the sadhana, and the left path that was once followed in the devi cult apart from that followed by Aghoris towards Lord Shiva Kala Bhairava, leave us wondering about the enigmatic world that governs ancient Hinduism into the realm of higher knowledge.
Devi cult, steeped in enigmatic history and esoteric cult practices with popular followers like Adi Shankaracharya and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa completing their sadhana in this cult, and yet not recommending it to the masses leave me very curious about what is it that was taboo and was not meant for any lesser mortal?
This cult has brought to light, the art of love, the act of sex in ritual and the worship of the woman as the very incarnate of the Goddess and the man as that of Lord Shiva himself... its a silent ritualistic faith very secretive and yet very intriguing. The offering of creative juices, the practice of yogic poses and mudras to raise the self to higher spiritual level involving intimacy leave the layman blinking over what the depths of Hinduism can lead us into when the thick moral over of society is quite something else!
And all this goes back to the most powerful form of worshiping the Goddess - Sri Chakra.
It would be interesting to note that the Shankara matt are great followers of Kamakshi Amman, the Goddess of love, the consort of Lord Shiva. The principles of Advaita teach renunciation of desire towards flesh and lust and the Goddess is envisioned as the Mother rather than a divine consort. These great saints turn towards Shakti as their primordial source of energy and in the ancient times there were scattered across all Shakti Sthals, tantric peethas that were great centers of learning. Its unfortunate that what remains in the mind of the average learner is a fear, and respect for great Tantriks who are better known these days as great performer of magic, magic that we would love to stay away from. These powers invoked the goddess, raw Shakti to descend into the world of mortals and beat the unwitting who trespass into the way of these great sages. Tantriks were not that bad, they were phenomenal alchemists who knew astrology and the art of architecture and were most sort after to erect great temples assisting Kings who poured in their patronage toward religious propagation of faith.
At the pinnacle of this growth curve in the religious history of India, one man made a difference. Adi Shankaracharya brought these dangerous blood thirsty practices to halt and converted most of the bali peethas alias Shakti sthals into civilized centers of worship. And yet, deep mystery lies in two places, both of which were great Tantrik centers of learning, which once encouraged sacrifices of both human and animal to the Cult practice of Sri Vidya and also were great seats of learning in astronomy. And yet there is something strange in both of them!
Sri Nagar - On the banks of the river Alaknanda.
Here is no shrine covered by a man made temple! Here is a boulder that rests face down in the Alaknanda river. What makes this boulder so important, so eerie and so powerful? It is believed that this boulder has on its surface the very form of the Sri Chakra that demanded worship, signifying an ughra form of the Goddess that took the lives of any human who curiously set their glance on it without devotion. The Goddess claimed lives, by death and by bloody sacrifice that left an unsettling feeling in the minds of the masses. Sri Nagar, or the land of Sri Vidhya was a great center of tantrik practices of the left hand path and it took the Great Shankara to come and worship the Mother here in the 8th cen A.D. He is known to have performed a great ritual, one that appeased the Goddess and in the bargain turned the great boulder carrying her emblem face down into the river, hiding her very form from the world ever since. The pure waters continue to flow, the sacred rock rests in silence and all peace reigns again in this region, yet the form of the Goddess was mysteriously hidden from view. This sacred boulder is still worshiped, but the mother has hidden her divine Ughra form for ever.
Ujjain - Harasiddhis temple of Goddess Annapurni
This is the uncanny reality of the Sri Chakra, buried into a river bed in one place and displayed in all her flamboyance in another place. This is in the great city of Ujjain, one of the greatest Shakti Sthals that hosts the sacred shrine of Harasiddha Gauri, another form of Annapurni Mata. Though the exterior of this temple reeks of modernism of the times, the inner walls and ceiling speak of spectacular concepts in tantra. The sacred shrine within hosts the divine smiling Mother who decorates a sacred stone in vermillion and chandan. This is her form here, quite simple and yet powerful. Ujjain was a great seat of tantrik worship, and the original prototype of the Hindu Panchang(calendar) took its root here. It is believed that the Bhumadhya rekha [possibly the prime meridian] passes through here and thus makes this town the seat of all astronomical learning and calculations [this information may not be authentic]. Here is where the link between the celestial world and human world is defined through the science of tantric astrology. The walls and ceiling of the Harasiddhi temple are a living library of astrological significance. Here the Sri Chakra has been described on the ceiling, with hundreds of deities in their personified forms within this elaborate diagram, quite the opposite of what hides deep and buried in the waters of the Alaknanda.
This contradiction to thought, this display of apparent difference between two shrines, of which both are great power centers and both were great seats of tantricism at some point in India history, now appear to be cloaked in divine innocence that one echoed a language of death sacrifice. Makes me want to ask, what is the Sri Chakra, what is the essence of the Goddess and what is her power that makes her so great, so deep, so unattainable and so potent that no mortal stands a chance except be her humble devotee!
Reference and image:
Tantra Unveiled: Seducing the Forces of Matter & Spirit
By Rajmani Tigunait